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Sunday, 30 March 2014

An Amazing Prophecy! So Take Courage.

This week has been a week (as usual) of sadness. In the newspaper there was a report about Stiff Back Syndrome, and about this fellow who has developed the disease which, he reckons, will confine him to a wheelchair by the end of the year. This was the same diagnosis given to my beloved wife Alex, by the medical team at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford during Autumn of last year (2013). What I found so disheartening was that permanence was implied in the report that there is no cure. Furthermore, not only could be fatal if the nerve and muscle stiffness affected the heart, but the screw is tightened furthermore by the irritating fact that the ailment is extremely rare, affecting just one out of a million people.
Only last week, I took my wife out of the house, other than to hospital, for the first time after over seven months. But it was nothing like the cheerful strolls we enjoyed so much as a couple, whether through the forest, to town, or to the station as were in former times. Instead, I pushed her along while she sat in a wheelchair I had recently bought for her. What most distressed her was when we passed by young mothers instructing their children to "mind the wheelchair" as if her disability stood her out in the street.

Really, this has affected both of us. Alex only recently looked deep into my eyes one evening when we were in bed, and I asked her,
"What can you see in my eyes?"
"Despair, and fear of the future." was her reply. She was spot on.
As I looked back on over fifteen years, most of this as husband and wife, yes I do recall the memorial times, such as our honeymoon in Rhodes where I picked up an ear infection from the hotel pool not properly chlorinated. Whether that was an omen or not I can't be too sure. But we both recall so many other trips we went on together, either in the UK or abroad. And the amount of walking and cycling, including hiring bicycles in Scotland to ride along the shores of Loch Ness, to see if by chance we might see that mythical creature! And again when we hired bikes at Kos, to ride to the Thermal, a natural hot spring where we bathed in the hot water pooled in at the beach. These and many more happy memories, even day to day life at home. Yet I recall two Christian husbands at different times and different churches who watched their wives deteriorate into wheelchair mobility, then both men ending up as widowers.

It is this I despair at. The thought of seeing my beloved go the same way as those two wives brings utmost dread, and believe me, I'm not exaggerating. This, accompanied by a feeling of intense loneliness, with the possible exception of being with my church friends. But even at my church there is a sense of helplessness where the elders feel a sense of loss with the situation. With my beloved incapacitated, a feeling of loss even at a place where there should be love and friendship flowing freely and my faith strengthened, but instead with a sense of nothing bright to look forward to, the feeling of desperation temps me to ask:
Lord, why us? What have we done to deserve all this sorrow?

This comes from the idea that we have rights, that our lives should be as normal as all the other middle class folk around us. So be it - they own their own homes, have two or even three cars, they go abroad once, often twice a year, and of course, they done well at school and now hold down a profession, with a good income to go with it. Of course, all these things I would have liked. But I don't have any of these things, therefore I have learnt to be content with what I do have - a history of world travel, and a wife who adores me to the full, as well as someone I can love and cherish.

It is while I am in this state of affairs that I can take courage from the prophet Daniel, perhaps one of my favourite Biblical characters other than Jesus Christ. His humbleness was a virtue which is still something, I believe, many Christians have yet to learn. In chapter 9:4-19, he beseeches God for his mercy and for his forgiveness for both himself and for all of Israel, and pleads for the restoration of Jerusalem, the capital where God himself had placed his name. It is quite a prayer, with him acknowledging that he is without strength, both he and his people, and unlike many charismatic churches at present, does not "claim" any rights or blessings, but considers himself fortunate that such a great and holy God who had chosen Abraham, could be so forgiving to someone like himself and to his nation, who were disobedient over many centuries. And so he pleads with God for his mercy on himself, his people Israel, and for the restoration of his beloved city. It was, in actuality, a standing in the shadow of the Cross. I believe that every believer, and yes, every unbeliever as well, should have the experience of standing in the shadow of the Cross. Under the Cross, every form of pride melts away, our social standing becomes insignificant, along with our careers and professions. The Cross also slays our trust in wealth, and of every earthly pleasure, as well as our nationalism. Also, under the Cross, all disputes evaporates, and former enemies stand arm in arm for support. In short, what the Cross of Christ does is slay the old man.

The response for Daniel's prayer of contrition has become, at least to me in particular, the most amazing, if not the most astonishing prophecy ever written, not just in the Bible, but in every literature ever written throughout history. If there was such a dramatic demonstration of God's omniscience and his sovereignty, sure this would be the finest example. Here is the prophecy:

As soon as you began praying, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore consider the message and understand the vision:
Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to appoint the most holy.
Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens' and sixty-two 'sevens' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two 'sevens', the Anointed One will be cut off, (but not for himself) and have nothing.
Daniel 9:24-26a.

Anyone who can add up can see that seventy sevens, also known in the KJV as "seventy weeks" must mean 490 units of time must elapse before finish transgression" -"to put an end to sin" - "to atone for wickedness" and to bring in everlasting righteousness by appointing the most holy. Surely these could not be literal weeks, because the Anointed One (i.e. the Christ) did not come merely ten years later, as this was written around 516 BC, which was the first year of the Mede/Persian Empire. Not only that, but even to this day there is no sign that we are living in "everlasting righteousness" or that "the most holy" has been appointed in Jerusalem. But putting an end to sin in our lives and to atone for wickedness was accomplished by Jesus Christ when he died on the cross.

That the 490 years did not begin in 516 BC, but agreed by all scholars that this period began in 445 BC, the year Nehemiah, the Jewish cup-bearer to Persian King Artaxerxes, was commissioned by the king to return to Jerusalem with his fellow Jews to rebuild the walls of the city (Nehemiah 1). The 490 years, I believe, were for Israel to exist without a king before the return and reign of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, which is still future from this point of time. Various scholars have battled with this, involving present day churches, as the reign of Christ had not occurred since his crucifixion and his resurrection some two thousand years ago. Furthermore, I don't think I ever heard a preach delivered on this matter in the last forty years as a believer.

But this prophecy does not involve present day churches at all. It is to do with Israel and with Jerusalem, the literal city which I had the privilege not only to visit but to actually spend a whole month within its walls in 1994. Having been there, Jerusalem means a great deal to me and therefore all prophecies connected to it. Therefore, I can't help reading such prophecies as seeing the wonderful omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence of Almighty God who is the hope for all our sorrows in life.

With the risk of being so academic, by reading the Scripture, it looks that the figure is divided by three parts:
(7x7)+(62x7)+(1x7) - with (7x7) and (62x7) only mentioned in the above quote.
Since (7x7=49)+(62x7=434)=483 years, it is still seven years short of the total 490 years before righteousness will be established. (The remaining one "week" of seven years still lie in the future from this point in time, but that is a discussion for another day.) But why was there a separation between the 49 years and the remaining 434 years? I think there was a good reason, that it was the year 396 BC that Malachi, the final book of the Old Testament, was completed, hence closing the canon. There was also the possibility that the entire city of Jerusalem was completed by this time as well.

These were Hebrew years referred to here, each being 360 days long. Therefore 483 years is 173,880 days - the number of days between the commission of Nehemiah and the Triumphal Entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. I have been curious to put these to the test, so I did some calculations, just to see how close to the historic truth these prophecies could be. So what I did was to calculate:
-445+483=38 AD.

I felt disappointed, until I remembered that the 483 years were Hebrew years of 360 days each. Therefore by calculating 483 years, each with the extra 5.25 days (as in our modern Gregorian calender) - I came up with almost 2,536 days. By dividing that number by 360 (days in the Hebrew year) the result was just over seven years. All I had to do was deduct 7 years from 38 years to come up with AD 31, which was much closer to the date of the crucifixion. But there was a further complication. Ancient Hebrew numeracy did not have the zero, therefore a year is deducted from the total, making the year of his crucifixion as AD 30. This takes in the age of Jesus when he died as again without the zero, if he was born in 4 BC, then he would have been in his 34th year - or over 33 years old.

There were further complications, such as the discrepancy between the lunar and the solar year. As the Jews measured their time in lunar years, the way to fix the discrepancy was to add a second Adar, that is, an extra month, every several years - just as each year we mark off 365 days, with one extra day every four years. But it looks apparent that when the Holy Spirit measures time, he used the 360-day year. This is just a thought, but this sort of thing had made me ponder whether the Jews in Jesus' day had rejected him because he appeared seven years too soon, according to their calculations based on Daniel. But then, it would have been equally creditable had Jesus died at age 40. Whichever the reason, he came, and he was rejected, and crucified.

Therefore it isn't difficult for many scholars to believe that the 173,880 literal days were the exact number between the commissioning of Nehemiah by the king to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, to the Triumphal Entry of Jesus Christ into the same city. If true, then what can I say? All I can do is to stand back and gasp with awe at the revelation, and acknowledge with reverence that God is God and Jesus Christ is Lord. Also, with such accuracy of foreknowledge making Probational Salvation looking a little foolish, how can I, even with a crumb of common sense, not believe in Once Saved Always Saved?

This is why I strongly advocate in reading the Bible. As itself testifies, reading and hearing the Word of God generates faith. It gives me strength and hope during adverse circumstances. And with it comes the knowledge of prophecy. I have heard people say that Biblical prophecy is very controversial, particularly Daniel, and therefore should be avoided. That is a load of tosh! I enjoy reading it, receive revelation from it and from it build faith which will endure the testing of day-to-day life. I'm not a professional by any chance, and certainly not an academic. Yet such testimony is there, in the Bible which you can hold in your hand, open and read. Daniel chapter nine is as easily available to read as John chapter three! God does not discriminate.

The future looks bleak for Alex and myself, but thanks to the easy availability of the Bible, along with encouragement from my friends, brothers and sisters in our church fellowship, hope for the future will endure.


Comments on the above topic are welcome, as they always are. If you have an opinion, a point of view, or something I have overlooked or further light on Daniel chapter nine you can share, then please post. Moderation is in place to keep out spam. Please also note that comments carrying links to other websites or to marketing will not be posted.
God bless.


  1. Frank,
    I think each of us can only comment on what the Holy Spirit speaks to us and our own experiences as a Christian. As far as the future looking bleak I have to ask 'Are you seeing Alex and your future according to what man has told you?' For myself the Lord has always told me to 'take every thought captive and bring it into obedience to Christ', so I can not focus my thoughts on what man says. When I first became a Christian the Lord told me to 'take no thought for tomorrow', and that 'my times were in His hands'. I was also shown to 'Trust in the Lord with all my heart and not to lean on my own understanding.' Because of these scriptures and many others shown to me as I seek His word in my life, I am realizing more and more that 'the battle belongs to the Lord' ,not to me, and He is the one I must listen to, not man. Many of His words have been proved true in my life, including healing from 'the prayer of faith', and I am still going through trials though nothing as hard as your Alex. However I have had enough evidence to believe that, 'all things are possible with God', and have seen many miracles brought about through prayer.
    God bless you both

  2. Some good points there, Brenda.
    It is my natural instinct to trust what the doctors say, and forget the power and mercy of God.
    Thanks for your reminder to always trust the Lord above man's opinions.
    God bless.

  3. Dear Frank,
    Praying for you and Alex in your time of despair, and agreeing with Brenda that all things are possible with God, Who is the Great Physician and Healer. May He grant you both the peace that passes all understanding, the joy that comes only through Him, and the blessed hope of knowing that our future is secure, eternal, and glorious. You are both blessed by your devotion to one another as well as to Him, ad you are both an inspiration and Godly example to all of us. Based on current events, it would seem that we are in the End Times and that the Rapture could occur at any moment, when all believers will go from this world of earthly cares and sorrows to eternal, abundant, joyous life with Him.
    God bless,

  4. Frank,
    when I turned my computer on this morning, for some reason I saw part of your blog with the empty wheelchair picture. There was absolutely no reason why that should be there as I had not gone into my blog posts area. What came straight into my mind is God answering prayer and Alex no longer needing a wheelchair (hence it being empty). I pray along with everyone else for Alex to be healed, and I cannot discard this as being nothing as I have had and seen healings, and know that they can be accompanied with signs.
    May God bless you both with what is possible with Him

  5. Will be praying for you. Thankfully, God is still in charge and knows more than the doctors. One of the greatest statements of faith is found in Daniel 3:17-18, when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego said that while they believed God could save them, they would trust him do what was best even if he didn't. Thank you for showing a similar attitude.

  6. Frank, what a beautiful and heartfelt post, it made me think of Paul saying "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord" as my husband always says; "If I'm still alive here it is good, but if I die it will be so much better!" though we are still healthy yet, and in Jesus that is so true! Love to you and pray that our family reunion in heaven that I will see you and your sweet Alex and give you both a huge hug. <3

  7. Frank, you should have added (not subtracted) a year. The calculation would show that Jesus was crucified in the year 32 AD. In this year Nisan 14 (the date of crucifixion) fell on Monday 14 April. Was Jesus crucified on a Monday? I do not think so. The interpretation cannot be correct!!

  8. Frank, You should have ADDED a year (not subtracted it) to get AD 32. In this year, the eve of the passover fell on Monday 14 April. Are you saying that Jesus was crucified on a Monday??

    Clearly something is wrong with the interpretation!